December 29, 2017
Climate scientists guide Maori growers
A group of east coast landowners have enlisted NIWA scientists to help them get the best from their whenua.
Te Rau Aroha Trust from Omaio near Te Kaha has won a won a $250,000 research grant under the Vision Matauranga programme of the Deep South National Science Challenge to better understand the area’s changing climate.
Trust chair Chris Karamea Insley says Omaio has a high concentration of Maori land and some of the most productive soils in New Zealand as well as microclimates in sheltered bays at the edge of the Raukumara Range that are ideal for growing high value crops such as kiwifruit.
Before making any investment the owners want to understand the likely impact of more extreme weather events and longer, dryer summers.
They were also concerned about how rising sea levels might affect infrastructure and aquifers.
The project will train the Omaio community to monitor climate and hydrology data, as well as offer irrigation management tools so decisions can be made about ensuring there is sufficient water for both community purposes and commercial applications.
“NIWA brings a wealth of knowledge about climate change and its impacts so as we plan our land development we can make strong choices as to what we do, how we do it, and what crops we plant given that over the next five, 10, 50 years the climate will be changing,” Mr Insley says.
He says the new Labour-New Zealand First-Green Government’s commitment to addressing climate change is also seen positively in Omaia, as is its promises on regional development.
The initial target is to create 100 new jobs for local whanau, which will bring in millions more dollars into the local economy.
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